US Warns Turkey of Sanctions if it Does Not Release Pastor

Spokesperson for President Erdogan Ibrahim Kalin

Turkey has accused Brunson of backing a coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan two years ago.

The lira, which has lost about 40 percent of its value this year, recovered a little on Wednesday after the Turkish government took steps to support it.

Its precipitous decline has raised concerns about the resilience of Turkey's banking sector and caused ructions on global markets.

Ankara's central bank took actions to reinforce the currency on August 15 and squeezed the Turkish lira's liquidity from the market.

Ankara acted amid increased tension between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies over Turkey's detention of a pastor and other diplomatic issues, which have helped to send the lira tumbling to record lows against the dollar.

The United States will take further action against Turkey if it continues to detain American pastor Andrew Brunson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday in a sign that tensions between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies will continue to escalate over the issue.

"Both leaders emphasised the importance of fostering economic and trade relations as well as mutual investments", the source said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier criticised Turkey's move to impose tariffs on some U.S. goods as "regrettable and a step in the wrong direction".

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Turkey said it would not be strong-armed into releasing Brunson, whose second appeal for release was rejected on Wednesday.

The dispute is one of several between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, including diverging interests in Syria and US objections to Ankara's ambition to buy Russian defense systems, that have contributed to instability in Turkish financial markets.

When Mr Kilic sought to tie conditions to Mr Brunson's release, Mr Bolton waved them aside and said there would be no negotiations.

On Wednesday, Turkey rejected pastor Andrew Craig Brunson's appeal to be released from custody, and slapped additional tariffs on USA imports. Appearing alongside him, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said "the era of bullying must end".

Analysts say Turkey is also likely to seek a more dynamic economic relationship with China and Russian Federation, with whom ties have warmed considerably in recent years.

"They are squeezing lira liquidity out of the system now and pushing interest rates higher", Cristian Maggio, head of emerging markets strategy at TD Securities, said. Central bank data showed foreign currency deposits held by local investors rose to $159.9 billion in the week to August 10, from $158.6 billion a week earlier.

The lira firmed as far as 5.75 against the dollar on Wednesday and stood at 6.030 at 1758 GMT.

Washington later said it was ready to impose further economic sanctions on Turkey.

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Turkey's finance minister sparked a recovery in the lira after he addressed thousands of worldwide investors, pledging to protect beleaguered local banks and cut public spending to prevent the country defaulting on its loans.

Mr Albayrak said Turkey's banks are "healthy and strong" and that implementing structural reforms and maintain tight monetary policy to fight inflation remain a priority.

The decree said the move brought tariffs to 50 percent on imports of United States rice, 140 percent on hard alcoholic drinks like spirits, 60 percent on leaf tobacco and 60 percent on cosmetics.

Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter that the increase in duties were in response to "deliberate attacks on our economy" by the U.S. administration.

The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu in early August over their roles in Brunson's detention.

An evangelical from North Carolina, he has been held in Turkey for almost two years over alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party and the Gulenist movement, which Turkey blames for a failed coup in 2016.

There was also optimism about better relations with the European Union after a Turkish court released two Greek soldiers pending trial. Brunson's lawyer told CBS News that a higher court was still considering the appeal and could overrule that decision.

Erdogan has repeatedly told Turks to exchange gold and hard currency into lira, saying the country was involved in an economic war with enemies.

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